Re: [asa] A Message from the RTB Scholar Team (fwd)

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sun Apr 20 2008 - 06:54:47 EDT

Though it will convince no one who has not stepped outside of their 'normal science' paradigm, let me reiterate the problem and a solution. George says 'human evolution.' I ask for greater nuance because humans are not ONLY biological entities, but also social, cultural, ethical, spiritual, etc. Thus, when one says something like 'humans evolve,' they are of course correct, but ONLY on the biological level. The other levels, however, cannot be 'reduced' to mere biology; they must be given their own respective position, which simply calling it 'human evolution' obscures. So really, what I am claiming is that George is (in one sense, and probably lovably so) an obscurantist who is stubborn to protect his particular (imo outdated) philosophy of science (PoS). I am glad and ready to pit my PoS against his and to challenge him to investigate the sociology of science, which he knows little to nothing about. This in no way lowers my respect for his contribution to theological
 knowledge, to his pastoral role or to his particular command of theoretical physics.
  Two comments display the difficulty in expressing my argument quite clearly. Rich writes: "Evolution = biological descent with modification unless marked otherwise. If you put an adjective in front of evolution then it may be something completely different." And Bernie writes: "Note: any time I use the term "evolution" by itself it means biological evolutionary theory. Arggh." Please excuse that I am challenging the position of an electrical engineer and a tele-evangelist, as it says on (Bernie's blog - please forgive if my google search points to a person who is not you!) about the 'meaning of evolution'. These two statements are so strongly opposed to criticism, so dependent upon a particular view of what science is and what it isn't, so unflexible to the new knowledge that has been added by history, philosophy and sociology of science (not to mention hermeneutic philosophy and linguistics), that to change their minds would be exceedingly difficult!! Yet, I persist on
 my course with the view that in the long run it will win out, even with natural scientists.
  'Evolution,' speaking etymologically, is considerably older (17th century) than the 'field of biology' (19th century - Lamarck, 1802). Modern biology has appropriated it as 'it's own' and this part of the problem I am highlighting. Others seems to take it for granted that the field of biology 'owns the rights' to the term 'evolution.' I beg to differ.
  For example, Jaroslav Pelikan traces the roots of 'evolution' in the English language to the Cambridge Platonists. Of course, the Latin word 'evolvere' is older than the English 'evolution.' If one attempts or assumes that 'evolution' by itself MEANS 'biological evolutionary theory' then they are impressing their view on others who disagree. I disagree and am not impressed because in the last five years I have done considerable research, both academic and personal, on the diverse meanings of evolution. Thus, to conflate evolutionary psychology, evolutionary economics and evolutionary sociology (just to provide three examples), with evolutionary biology, and to assume (without asking the bigger questions) a priority for biology in one's 'hierarchy of knowledge,' is to do a disservice to those 'other' fields and the serious multi-logues they have had (and sometimes still having) regarding this contentious term 'evolution'.
  Particularly to Rich, let it be noted I am quite prepared to admit my failure to convince people at ASA about certain things. The 'miserable' part at least does not accurately apply to my disposition in the face of this failure. This has been frustrating because to me it seems quite logical that natural scientists could openly accept and respect the perspective of a human-social scientist on his (or her) own terms. Quite obviously I am a multi-logue partner at ASA completely unfamiliar to most of the participants there.
  You have not embraced my vision of expanding your understandings of evolution outside of the natural sciences and you have, with all due respect, not understood the importance for Christian ministry, apologetics, '(natural) science and religion' discourse or self-knowledge of distinguishing between origins and processes, between society, culture and nature (cf. socialism, culturalism and naturalism), which inevitably includes reflexive methods that positivistic science generally excludes categorically (e.g. Moorad's position that psychology is not 'scientific' in the same sense as 'physics'). I am sad for this, but hopeful that someday ASA will come to seek a cooperative relationship between natural sciences, human-social sciences and humanities that mirrors or somehow echoes its insistence on minimizing the conflict between science and religion, the woefully misguided 'warfare model' that was foisted on it by those without holistic knowledge, who protested what was then
 in America the status quo.

Rich Blinne <> wrote:
  Quorum systems serve as a basic tool providing a uniform and reliable way to achieve coordination in a distributed system. They are useful for distributed and replicated databases, name servers, mutual exclusion, and distributed access control and signatures. How would a quorum system process this thread? You have one node called George that sends a message. Node Rich, node Dave, node Iain, node Scott, node Don, and node Steve all send positive acknowledgements. Node Gregory sends a negative acknowledgement. The quorum system concludes that node Gregory is bad, not node George. In other words, communication involves a speaker and one or more listeners. When one listener doesn't "get it" when all the rest do, it is the height of arrogance to blame the speaker.

  I've seen the same dynamics in church politics. A pastor preaches to the entire congregation. Yet, it doesn't match the particular idiosyncrasies of an individuals or individuals. Usually this is to make it more "precise" or "scholarly" all in the name of "meat". That this might not minister to the majority of the congregation is not important because the all important "me" is "not fed". For some inexplicable reason a particular vocabulary is needed. Equivalent forms of communication are not considered as correct because of the insistence of a lazily computed orthodoxy. By not considering the other "nodes" we may not truly know whether we have the truth. Note that the faith delivered once for all is delivered to the saints plural and not singular.

  Getting back on topic. One the major issues I have with Expelled is its insistence on its own use of terms. Christians who believe in evolution are excluded *by definition* of the word Darwinism or neo-Darwinism all in neat "scare quotes". No wonder the producer finds interviewing Ken Miller as confusing because it undercuts their redefinition of standard terms. If there is a standard exposition of the term it is incumbent on the neologist to justify their new usage and that bar is quite high. IMHO, in this regard Gregory has failed miserably. Evolution = biological descent with modification unless marked otherwise. If you put an adjective in front of evolution then it may be something completely different. For example, stellar evolution just means slow change with time. That's the great thing about standard terms. You can avoid verbal diarrhea and that's what Dave means by "unnecessary verbiage".

  Rich Blinne
  Member ASA
  On Apr 19, 2008, at 3:26 PM, Gregory Arago wrote:
    You've got to be kidding me!! -) You seriously think it is 'unnecessary verbiage' to distinguish between 'human evolution' and 'biological evolution of humans'??? That's two words difference (or nearly twice the amount of letters, for you statisticians), but a major difference in 'category'. Cat-e-gory! It would take such little effort and go such a long way. It is a shock to me that no will is present to adjust what could be so easily done for the cause of communicative clarity.

Dave Wallace <> wrote:
  Gregory Arago wrote:
> Yes Don, nail on the head! Why couldn't George have said this in the first place, to avoid misunderstanding? Thanks for your clarity! - G.
Because it was unnecessary verbiage ie overabundance or superfluity of words, as in writing or speech; wordiness; verbosity.

Dave W

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Received on Sun Apr 20 06:55:57 2008

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